AFC Fylde draw Solihull Moors in FA Trophy but boss Jim Bentley focuses on league and injuries first

Jim Bentley has got the home draw he craved in the third round of the FA Trophy and hopes to have a few more players available by the time Solihull Moors visit AFC Fylde on December 18.

By Andy Moore
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 8:00 am

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The third-round draw against familiar opponents from non-league’s top level is a fitting one for Fylde.

Moors were one of the last teams Fylde played as a National League club – a goalless draw in March last year.

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Fylde celebrate Emeka Obi's winning goal against Gateshead in the FA Trophy on Saturday Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

The Coasters played twice more, winning both, before the season was abandoned because of the pandemic and Bentley’s side were relegated on a points-per-game basis.

That draw with Solihull almost 21 months ago marked the start of an unbeaten home run, which reached 17 games with Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Gateshead in Fylde’s first Trophy tie of this season.

Fylde face two further National League North fixtures before the Solihull clash, starting with Blyth Spartans’ visit to Wesham this Saturday, and Bentley’s immediate focus is on those games as well as an injury situation he described as “mad”.

Listing the players unavailable, Bentley revealed: “Luke Burke has had a bit of a setback but is working hard. Nathan Shaw is a bit hit and miss and is not coming on as quick as we’d want.

“Dave Perkins is back running and so is Alex Whitmore.

“Nick Haughton was a little bit ill on Friday and we left him out (against Gateshead) just to make sure we keep him right because he is a key player for us.

“Joe Piggott has a bit of a hip injury. We’ve assessed it and come up with a plan, and hopefully he’ll be back next week.

“Stephen Dobbie has a calf injury he did in training last Friday and will be out for a few weeks, so the physio is overworked.

“The players who have come in have stepped up to the plate. We believe all the players can do the business when called upon.”

The presence of strikers Dobbie and Piggott on the injured list makes it all the more important that the goals are shared around Bentley’s side.

That’s why the Coasters boss was particularly pleased that Saturday’s matchwinner was centre-back Emeka Obi, though Bentley believes the towering defender could be scoring every week.

He added: “Nick Haughton has taken a lot of the limelight this season but we don’t want to rely on one person to get all the goals.

“Now Joe Piggott is up to six but you need goals all over the pitch. We have to make sure we all share the responsibility.

“If it doesn’t fall for the centre-forwards, then a centre-half can get the winner like on Saturday. You need that in any successful team.

“I’m pleased for Emeka. He’s been injured and out of the side, and Whits (Whitmore) and Stottie (Jamie Stott) have struck up a decent partnership.

“Now Whits has got injured and you want people to step up to the plate, and that’s what Emeka has done.

“We’ll have a few games like Telford, where we had to take him off because of his yellow card and he could have been sent off, but in other games he’s been outstanding.

“He has all the attributes and we think he can go on to have a very good career at a higher level.

“So if he can do his defensive work and chip in with goals, that will put him on people’s radar, but while he’s here we have to expect a bit more from him.

“Defensively, he can get a bit better again and, offensively, there’s no reason he can’t score every game because we have great delivery in the squad.

“He’s very powerful, and when Emeka is on that run, he’s very hard to stop.”

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